Brownwood Bulletin

Ira Banks cursed Kirby Roberts, his lawyer, Friday after leaving the courtroom with a 60-year prison sentence for possessing crack cocaine.

Brown County Court-at-Law Judge Frank Griffin, sitting as district judge, presided over the first-ever felony jury trial in his courtroom, which is the site of the county’s misdemeanor trials. The 4 1/2-year-old county court-at-law has felony jurisdiction.

Griffin assessed the 60-year term a day after a jury convicted Banks of possession of a controlled substance.

Brownwood police arrested Banks on Jan. 6 while searching for a robbery suspect. Officers James Fuller and Patrick Sloan went into a vacant home at 1:55 a.m. in the 700 block of Beaver in search of the suspect, police said earlier.

A man holding a knife — Banks, who wasn’t involved in the robbery — came out of the house and appeared to throw an item to the ground. Police retrieved a bottle containing what appeared to be small rocks.

District Attorney Micheal Murray put on evidence in the trial’s punishment phase showing Banks had been accused in an earlier incident of possessing cocaine. Murray also put on evidence showing Banks has been to prison for at least four other felonies.

In another felony trial in 35th District Judge Steve Ellis’ court, jurors sentenced Pancho Villarreal, 19, to 10 years probation after convicting him of indecency with a child. Villarreal was accused of fondling a teenage girl at Lake Brownwood.

First Assistant District Attorney Sam Moss asked jurors to sentence Villarreal to prison, saying Villarreal had several previous instances of scrapes with the law. Defense attorney Sam Mehaffey told jurors those involved in the fondling were “children” when the incident happened two years ago.

In an earlier unrelated case, Jimmy Glen Walls pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy and delivery of a controlled substance and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Walls, on probation for possession of a controlled substance, was revoked and sentenced to 18 months in state jail.